These are extraordinary times and this is when one needs to show more courage both in terms of taking practical steps but also boosting people’s morale.
By Prachi Raturi Misra
With COVID-19 cases spiking, in the country, a young mayor, with his heart in the right place, seems to have taken some dynamic steps to curb the cases in Raipur and boost the morale of the ones recovering.
From 4,800 cases in the first week of April, the numbers are down to 1,000 and efforts are being made to further bring them down. For someone who got into politics at 16, Aijaz Dhebar, Mayor, Raipur known as a workaholic wants to be remembered as a leader who changed the face of Raipur. Aijaz Dhebar spoke to Prachi Raturi Misra on Raipur fighting COVID war and more. Excerpts of the interview.
Oxygen on wheels is a concept that seems to be getting a thumbs up from many quarters. Please share more details about the initiative?
An initiative started by Municipal Corporation and Smart City, Raipur, Oxygen on wheels is taking oxygen to patients who are recovering from COVID-19 at home and might need oxygen. They get in touch with us through Whatsapp or call. We have doctors and oxygen supplies that are sent to the patients. We began on May 1st and in the past few odd days we have gone to 85 patients, 35 of whom needed and were provided with oxygen. We have gotten a tremendous response. In fact I learnt that Mr Anand Mahindra has also started the initiative.
Raipur’s indoor stadium was converted into Covid care facility in four days. Please tell us more.
We worked round the clock to have this facility up and running. Today we are equipped with 350 beds, 140 oxygen plants for seriously ill patients and 200 nodal oxygen facilities for normal patients. To keep the patients occupied and entertained, we have television, chess and carrom boards Patients can also talk with their near and dear ones through video calls.
I have personally been monitoring phone calls from the control room, paying visits to patients and even welcoming cured patients by showering flower petals on them.
Showering flower petals on recovered patients. How was this thought about?
These are extraordinary times and this is when one needs to show more courage both in terms of taking practical steps but also boosting people’s morale. Being courageous in normal times is expected but it is tough times that really test out mettle.
When the recovered patients are showered with flower petals to see them happy, it is a very special feeling. Also it boasts morale of the other patients. Recently on my Bday, I gave an ambulance, 200 oximeters, and 15,000 food packets and promised to bear the cost of 550 employees of Municipal Corporation. The idea is to keep the atmosphere charged with positivity.
As a young leader, do you face more challenges?
I guess as a young Mayor, people expect more work from me. But I am happy to deliver because I thrive on challenges. I hope to do some good work and make a positive difference.
What are some of the other things you want to achieve?
With our CM’s guidance and support I want to change the face of Raipur. Be it reviving lakes, having good roads, running mohalla clinics, mission Amrit Yojana (which ensuring clean drinking water), English Medium Schools run by state and e-Number plate scheme for every household, I want to make sure to bring a positive change in life of every citizen of Raipur.
(The author is an independent journalist and author. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online.)